Heart Breaker

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Medicare enrollment form and glasses

Moses deGraft-Johnson, a well renowned heart surgeon who immigrated to the U.S. as a child from Ghana, surrendered his medical licenses and pleaded guilty to 58 counts of healthcare fraud in 2020. (So much for the American Dream. He blew it.)

(It’s every parent’s dream to have a child that’s a surgeon, but not one who is also a fraudster.)

Dr. deGraft-Johnson performed his first open heart surgery in the U.S. Virgin Islands and reportedly saved the life of rapper 50 Cent after he was shot in 2000 in New York City. He joined Capital Regional Medical Center’s staff in 2014, then went on to open his own business, the Heart and Vascular Center in North Florida. (He was definitely on his way to his own fame and success prior to making a bad decision that involved Medicare fraud.)

What wasn’t known until recently is that he was fraudulently billing Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield and others by billing for expensive procedures he never performed on his underprivileged patients. Beginning in early 2016, until his arrest in February 2020, deGraft-Johnson performed hundreds of unnecessary, invasive surgical procedures on his patients in the Tallahassee area. (No amount of sutures could repair the damage deGraft-Johnson has caused to his community.)

He targeted vulnerable individuals in the area by forming relationships with churches, nursing homes, a hospital, and outreach organizations. (In other words, he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.) In addition to subjecting his patients to unnecessary surgical procedures, Dr. deGraft-Johnson falsified patient records by billing for surgical procedures that he did not perform. (I’m sure they were heartbroken to find out their surgeon was taking advantage of them.)

While his lawyers argued for a lenient sentencing, given that under federal guidelines deGraft-Johnson faced a sentencing range between roughly 22 and 27 years in prison, the Northern Florida’s U.S. Attorney’s office asked the judge not to grant leniency and to consider all the victims who had been impacted by his illegal acts.

“This physician compromised the health and safety of his patients in favor of illegal profit,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jason Coody said in a prepared statement. “His acts not only violated the law, but the trust of his patients.” (I’ll say.)

In November 2021, deGraft-Johnson was sentenced to seven years in prison. He was also ordered to pay $28.4 million in restitution, the same amount he defrauded from the government and private insurers. (Maybe this will teach him not to go breaking anymore hearts.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Heart surgeon who tricked patients and bilked insurers out of millions gets 7 years in prison,” published by the Tallahassee Democrat on November 18, 2021.

Moses deGraft-Johnson, a one-time jet-setting heart surgeon who walked away with millions of dollars for medical procedures he never performed, was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker imposed the punishment during a hearing Thursday at the federal courthouse in Tallahassee. Walker also ordered him to pay $28.4 million in restitution — the same amount he bilked from the government and private insurers.

 

 

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.